Defensive back Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner and quarterback Desmond Ridder have more in common than just having worn the same college uniforms.
The two standouts who helped lead the University of Cincinnati Bearcats to the program’s first 13-win season last fall are also now both in the conversation to become NFL first-round draft picks.
The Cincinnati program has, to this point, had just two players in history drafted in the first round. Greg Cook was the No. 5 pick in 1969 by the Bengals, and Bob Bell was the 21st overall pick by Detroit in 1971.
Gardner’s secret ‘Sauce’
FanDuel posts odds of -350 on the 6-foot-3, 190-pound Gardner being the first cornerback taken in the draft, while DraftKings is even more confident in Gardner at -400. LSU’s Derek Stingley Jr. has the second-best odds at the position, priced at +250 at FanDuel and +275 at DraftKings.
Gardner’s odds of being a top-10 pick are at -550 according to FanDuel. If you’re looking for a bigger return on a riskier bet, FanDuel has odds of +124 on Gardner being among the first five draft picks. Only Georgia defensive lineman Travon Walker (-450), N.C. State offensive lineman Ikem Ekwonu (-300), Alabama offensive lineman Evan Neal (-250), and Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux (+100) have shorter odds among those with top-5 lines at FanDuel.
— Pro Football Network (@PFN365) April 4, 2022
Ridder borderline for first round
With regard to the Bearcats’ record-setting QB, DraftKings has odds of +1800 on Ridder being the first QB taken in the draft, while FanDuel pays out bigger at +3000.
The two mobile sportsbooks have odds of -200 and -160, respectively, on Malik Willis being the first QB being chosen in the draft.
Most mock drafts project Ridder falling either late in the first round on April 28 or in the second round on the next day.
Could the Detroit Lions pick at QB at No. 32? AllLions explores why Desmond Ridder is intriguing option for Lions with last pick of first round https://t.co/THf8fln1v2
— DetroitSportsPodcast (@DetroitPodcast) April 5, 2022
NFL Draft forecasts
There are many reasons for Gardner being on NFL scouts’ short lists for teams in need of secondary help. He’s a rangy cornerback. His arms measure 33½ inches in length while his hands measure over 9½ inches. He’s also quick on his feet, posting a 40-yard dash time of 4.41 at the NFL Draft Combine. Then there are the on-field results: Detroit native Gardner played three years at Cincinnati and didn’t give up a single touchdown while being in on more than a thousand plays.
As for Ridder, the 6-3, 211-pound signal-caller passed for 10,239 yards in his Cincinnati career, including a program-record 87 touchdowns. He finished with a 44-6 record as the Bearcats starter.
Ridder, who posted a 40-yard dash time of 4.52 at the combine, received a prospect grade of 6.36. Gardner scored higher at 6.72.
Gardner and Ridder both expect to hear their names called during the NFL Draft — and will make school history if it happens for both on the draft’s first day.